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Last Updated: Mar 24, 2009 - 3:48:49 AM


What Is Poi Anyway?
By Marcia Zina Mager
Jul 3, 2004 - 12:40:00 PM

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What is poi anyway?

    1. Fresh squeezed coconut juice
    2. Sour pineapple pudding
    3. A Jewish expression of disgust
    4. Nutritious food made by pounding taro

Just in case you're ever in the million dollar hot seat, here's everything you need to know about Poi:

  • Poi is made from the popular taro plant: the 14th most cultivated crop on earth.
  • Known in scientific circles as Colocasia esculenta, taro is cultivated both in the dry uplands and in marshy land irrigated by streams. The planters of wetland taro built walls of earth reinforced with stone to enclose the taro patch, or lo`i .
  • Although taro is eaten around the world, only Hawaiians make poi. Traditionally they cooked the starchy, potato-like taro root, or corm, for hours in an underground oven called an imu. Then they pounded the taro corms on large flat boards called Papa ku`i`ai, using heavy stone poi pounders called pohaku ku`i `ai. The taro was pounded into a smooth, sticky paste called pa`i`ai, then stored air tight in ti leaf bundles and banana sheaths for storage or future trading. By slowly adding water to the pa`i`ai, which was then mixed and kneaded, the perfect poi consistency was created. 4) Poi was traditionally enjoyed with fresh fish, seaweed, breadfruit and sweet potato -- an incredibly tasty and nutritious meal. And when it came to eating poi -- fingers were the utensil of choice. One, two, or three fingers to scoop out the pudding -- two finger poi was considered the best! And many Hawaiians loved their poi fermented a bit, giving it a unique, slightly sour taste.
  • The bowl of poi was considered so important and sacred a part of daily Hawaiian life that whenever a bowl of poi was uncovered at the family dinner table, it was believed that the spirit of Haloa, the ancestor of the Hawaiian people, was present. Because of that, all conflict among family members had to come to an immediate halt.
  • Poi is also a common term for a variety of other things, including fire poi for dancingJakarta POI for Apache, and P.O.I. (GPS Point of Interest).

Here is the USDA's nutritional makeup of Poi.

NDB No:     11349

Nutrient Units Value per
100 grams of
edible portion
Sample
Count

Proximates

Water

g

71.64

2

Energy

kcal

112

0

Energy

kj

469

0

Protein

g

0.38

2

Total lipid (fat)

g

0.14

1

Carbohydrate, by difference

g

27.23

0

Fiber, total dietary

g

0.4

0

Ash

g

0.61

1

Minerals

Calcium, Ca

mg

16

1

Iron, Fe

mg

0.88

1

Magnesium, Mg

mg

24

1

Phosphorus, P

mg

39

1

Potassium, K

mg

183

2

Sodium, Na

mg

12

2

Zinc, Zn

mg

0.22

0

Copper, Cu

mg

0.166

0

Manganese, Mn

mg

0.370

0

Selenium, Se

mcg

0.7

0

Vitamins

Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid

mg

4.0

0

Thiamin

mg

0.130

0

Riboflavin

mg

0.040

0

Niacin

mg

1.100

0

Pantothenic acid

mg

0.293

0

Vitamin B-6

mg

0.273

0

Folate, total

mcg

21

0

Folic acid

mcg

0

0

Folate, food

mcg

21

0

Folate, DFE

mcg_DFE

21

0

Vitamin B-12

mcg

0.00

0

Vitamin A, IU

IU

20

0

Vitamin A, RE

mcg_RE

2

0

Vitamin E

mg_ATE

0.180

0

Lipids

Fatty acids, total saturated

g

0.029

0

4:0

g

0.000

0

6:0

g

0.000

0

8:0

g

0.000

0

10:0

g

0.000

0

12:0

g

0.000

0

14:0

g

0.000

0

16:0

g

0.025

0

18:0

g

0.004

0

Fatty acids, total monounsaturated

g

0.011

0

16:1 undifferentiated

g

0.000

0

18:1 undifferentiated

g

0.011

0

20:1

g

0.000

0

22:1 undifferentiated

g

0.000

0

Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated

g

0.058

0

18:2 undifferentiated

g

0.040

0

18:3 undifferentiated

g

0.018

0

18:4

g

0.000

0

20:4 undifferentiated

g

0.000

0

20:5 n-3

g

0.000

0

22:5 n-3

g

0.000

0

22:6 n-3

g

0.000

0

Cholesterol

mg

0

0

USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 14 (July 2001)

Information on Taro

 


Copyright 1998-2009 by Craig W Walsh

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